A street preacher that had his Bible taken away and was dropped off far from home with no transportation or money has been given a financial award.
Oluwole Ilesanmi has been offered £2,500 ($4,000 CAD) in exemplary damages from the Metropolitan Police in relation to his false arrest, imprisonment and unlawful detention, according to Christian Concern.
A video of Ilesanmi being confronted by police and then arrested quickly went viral in February. Ilesanmi is shown being removed from the scene by officers.
"God was always with me"
He would claim that the officers drove him far from the scene and his home, and then removed him from the vehicle and left him stranded with no money or transportation. Police originally denied the claim, but by mid-March, they admitted that Ilesanmi was telling the truth.
Christian Concern launched a petition shortly after the event asking England's Home Secretary to Home Secretary "to investigate the guidance and training given to police officers nationwide on the freedom to preach in public."
The 64-year-old street preacher delivered the petition with 38,000 signatures to the Home Office on Tuesday morning.
The Christian Legal Centre will also deliver a letter to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, which is being sent to every chief constable in the country that calls for many of the misconceptions about street preaching freedoms to be addressed through specialist training.
The letter says, in part:
Many street preachers have found themselves in trouble. This has included being arrested, and prosecuted, despite the law recognising their rights to both manifest and express their religious beliefs. None of the clients we have assisted has been convicted; accordingly, that might suggest the criminal justice system is working appropriately; however, the problem is that many officers simply do not understand the interplay between the public order legislation and the right to freedom of speech.
“I am glad that the police have recognized that it was not right to arrest me for preaching from the Bible," Ilesanmi says in a release. "It was traumatic being arrested and left many miles from my home. But God was always with me and even though I was left in a place I did not know, I was determined to get back to Southgate and start preaching the gospel again.
“When I came to the UK it was a free Christian country, but now preachers like me are being arrested for speaking the truth. Christians and freedom of speech must be protected, especially by the government and police. I hope this recognition of fault can lead to more Christians being protected and the police gaining greater insight into what it means to lawfully proclaim the Word of God on our streets."
Ilesanmi says he's also grateful for the outpouring of support from Christians around the world.
“I am amazed and so grateful for the support I have received from people across the world and the Christian Legal Centre.”